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18.08.15

Unemployed young claimants to lose benefits unless they attend ‘boot camps’

Young adults will lose benefits if they do not take up jobs, apprenticeships or unpaid work experience, while those under the age of 21 will no longer receive housing support.

The measures are part of a new “no excuses” cross-government ‘earn or learn taskforce’ chaired by cabinet office minister Matt Hancock, including work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and education secretary Nicky Morgan.

The taskforce will set up a three-week ‘boot camp’ to help make young claimants “work-ready” within 6 months through an intensive programme covering job applications, interview techniques and an “extensive” job search.

The 71-hour programme, supported by a work coach, will force young jobseekers out of welfare from April 2017 if they do not find a job.

Hancock said the new boot camp seeks to “end the welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities”.

He added: “By working across government to make sure that every young person is in work or training, by opening up three million more apprenticeships, expanding traineeships, and making sure that a life on benefits is simply not an option, we want to end rolling welfare dependency for good, so welfare dependency is no longer passed down the generations.”

This is despite around 85% of 16 to 24-year-olds already being either in work or full-time education, to which the government said “there is more to do”.

“More than 70% of Jobseekers Allowance claimants said they would be more likely to follow the rules if they knew that their benefits were going to be reduced or stopped”, a government press release said.

Stephen Timms MP, Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary, welcomed changed to skill training but said: “The government needs to do far more to make sure there are jobs and apprenticeships at the end of it so that these young people can build a future.”

However UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, called the measure “another attack on the very people we should be striving to help”.

She said: “Government plans to force young people into work fundamentally fail to deal with reasons that so many of them are unable to find work or are not in education or training.

“The government is already hitting young people through cuts to further educations colleges’ budgets, increased university fees and the abolition of grants. What young people need is politicians who have a plan to help them, not subject them to scapegoating. Rather than short-term gimmicks, our young people need a long-term commitment to proper guidance, meaningful educational opportunities and stable, properly rewarded jobs.”

Alongside making young people take on jobs and unpaid work, the government also announced intentions to terminate housing support for under-21s as part of its plans to rack up £12bn in welfare savings.

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